Reduction of salt, sugars, trans fat and total fat is a key focus area for Nestlé in efforts to meet its nutrition commitments, according to its latest annual report, "Nestlé in Society 2013".
It showed that the number of products with reduction of sodium, sugars, trans fats, total fat, calories or artificial colourings was 4,221 in 2013. This compared to 3,317 last year and 1,215 in 2011.
For both sugar and salt, Nestlé said its gradual approach is helping consumers to adapt their taste preference, making them more likely to adopt a healthier diet in the long term.
Last year 96% of its children’s products met the Nestlé Nutritional Foundation sodium criteria (2012: 90%), based on nutrition science and dietary recommendations, such as those of the World Health Organisation and other authorities, the company said.
By 2014 it has pledged that 100% of children’s products meet the criteria and by 2016 salt content will be reduced by a further 10% in overall products that do not meet the criteria.
Similarly, 96% of Nestlé's children’s products met its Nutritional Foundation sugars criteria (2012: 90%).
By 2015, the aim is to reduce the sugar content in any serving of children’s or teenagers’ breakfast cereal brands to 9 g or less per serving – and by 2016 to further reduce sugar content by 10% in products that do not meet the foundation criteria.
Nestlé said that when reducing saturated fats and removing trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated oils, it will prioritise its products consumed by children and families, such as soups, snacks, pizzas and ready-made meals.
The report added: "With regard to trans fats, at the end of 2013, almost all our food and beverage products met our Nestlé Policy.
“In 2014, we are further strengthening our commitment to continuous improvement by updating this policy to remove all trans fats originating from partially hydrogenated oils from all of our foods and beverages."
This, it said, would be achieved by ongoing investments in research and development centres and external collaborations and partnerships.
Additionally there are ten new pledges this year five of which cover Nestlé’s existing W.A.T.E.R. commitments, giving them greater emphasis and making the company publically accountable for their attainment.
The other commitments focus on people – including a promise to assess and address human rights impacts in its operations and supply chain, to eliminate child labour and to enhance gender balance.
Oxfam recently assessed the sustainability initiatives of ten of the world's biggest food and drink companies in its Behind the Brands report .
Overall Nestlé was top of the big ten. However its record on women was mediocre, scoring 5/10.
Nestlé is to address gender inequality in its supply chains in a plan due to be finalised in May.